WASHINGTON D.C. (BRPROUD) — Members of the Louisiana delegation are sharing their frustration over additional hurricane relief aid being left out of the temporary government funding bill.
The $1.5 trillion spending bill will keep the government funding through September and includes $13.6 billion in new aid for Ukraine. The delegation is in support of the aid package but feels Louisiana is being left behind in the domestic spending.
“We absolutely need to go in and be helpful and offer a hand up and help out folks in Ukraine that are just in this awful situation,” Rep. Garret Graves said. “But it is inexcusable to not come in and to address some of the priority needs in Louisiana and other areas that have just been devastated by the 2020 and 2021 disasters.”
Rep. Graves filed amendments in the middle of the night to the 2,000-page document to bring billions of dollars to states that have been impacted by wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters. But the amendments were blocked before the vote took place. Graves also said not a penny of the past money they allocated has made it to Louisiana yet and is tied up in “bureaucratic red tape.”
“It is our understanding that nearly $3 billion of the $5 billion set aside for disaster relief for natural disasters in 2020 and 2021, including Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Ida, is sitting untouched at HUD. The delay in allocating these funds is attributed to an expired data-sharing agreement between HUD and FEMA that significantly impairs FEMA’s ability to share damage assessments with HUD,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy in a joint statement.
Rep. Clay Higgins joined in condemning the bill stating, “Any spending measure that moves forward, whether it be an omnibus or a short-term CR, is incomplete without additional disaster funding for South Louisiana.”
Despite their objections, it passed the House and heads to the Senate. Democrat Rep. Troy Carter voted in favor of the bill. The bill now stalls in the Senate where an agreement has to be made soon before the government shuts down at the end of the week without it.
Sen. Cassidy and Kennedy have offered amendments to add in billions of disaster relief aid.
“This is unacceptable to the thousands of Louisiana families still trying to recover. I will not stop trying to secure this relief,” Sen. Cassidy said.
The vote on the so-called omnibus funding bill is slated for Thursday night. It is not clear if the Senate amendments will be allowed to move forward.
Rep. Graves and Sen. Cassidy stated they will not stop pushing for more hurricane relief aid for the entire southern half of the state. Rep. Graves said there will be another chance this fall.